Researching Your Military Ancestors

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by FluffyBunny, Mar 5, 2006.

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  1. I've started (in another failed bid for immortality) a page in the ARRSEpedia to collect the wisdom evinced in this Forum.

    Researching Your Military Ancestors

    I'm able to provide some fairly useful references for the Royal Artillery, but am goosed when it comes to the lesser arms & corps. And the RAF.

    If anyone who can help wouldn't mind adding their bit it would save us sometimes giving the same info over and over again.
  2. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    ... ang I have added another useful link for you.

  3. And if I have my Grandfather's service number and Regiment (another bloody Gunner!), how to I set about finding out about his war service in WWII? And my Great Grandfather was a POW in WWII but I do not know either his service number or his Regiment - any ideas?
  4. Welllllll........................

    If you know what his Regiment was, get the appropriate book suggested from the library. PM or post here the Regt if you want and I'll see in which of the books it's mentioned.

    As for your Grandfather the POW, if you don't have his service number or Regt, he'll be less-than-easy to find UNLESS he has an unusual name that would help you track him down among the many other Pte Smith's.

    If you have any letters from him/to him from the war, there may be something in them that would help identify what he did.

    If you have any pictures of him in uniform, post them here and we'll see if we can recognise it.

    Last resort might be the Red Cross. They have a huge archive of POW record cards at their HQ in Geneva. The WW1 cards are part of a display but I'm not sure if they allow access to their records. Have a quick Google for their website and see if there is any info there.
  5. Grandfather was indeed a Gunner. He was in the Citadel at Plymouth before and I believe at the start of WWII. He ended up in Wales (Swansea area) where he met a new woman, divorced my Grandmother (big scandal in those days - soldiers never change) and my side of the family hardly saw hide nor hair of him after that. He had 2 daughters with his new wife but they don't know where his medals are. They say that he may have been at Normandy but they are so vague that I don't know what to believe. After all, my mother told me that he was in the RWF and then I discoverd on his wedding certificate that he was LBdr in Plymouth at the time of his (shotgun?) wedding in 1938.

    I've tried a few places for information on the WWII POW Great Grandfather but got nowhere. I'll give your suggestions a try. His name is Cunningham, so not exactly rare. Again, my mother is kind of mixed up with what he did in the war but is convinced that he was in N Africa and was in a POW Camp near Munich for at least some of the time. Again, he was sadly estranged from the family on his return but I haven't quite gotten to the bottom of that. I think that some nice 'uncle' was keeping the bed warm while he was away and just wasn't made welcome on his return.
  6. Sympathetic_Reaction

    Sympathetic_Reaction LE Book Reviewer

    The Red Cross will have info on any POWs and will release it but it costs unless you have the next of kin do it on your behalf, and can take sometime....took 3 months for the forms to arrive.

    You also need decent info on them, try and get thier full name and date of birth, that's a good start. Then try and find his regiment (you mother must have some idea of what he did - gunner/inf/engineer?) then you can contact the records office in Glasgow and they might be able to find him, though again takes time and costs and also needs Next of Kin permissions.

    If you can find any of his info from the war you will get snippets of info, any letters he wrote will have name, rank and serial number, as well as his POW camp name. you may find demob or mob documents. Do you know where he lived, there is a good chance if h joined the inf that he would have joined a local regt.

    Lots of places to search, if you want more of a pointer feel free to mail me...have tried this myself and got so far and only stopped because of time.

  7. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    If he was in 25 LAA Regt, I have a digitised copy of the unit's history, as my uncle, have enlisted in the Nothumberland Hussars in September 1939, found himself in "A" Sqn, which was reroled as one of the LAA batteries of 25 LAA Regt. He walked (drove a Bofors tractor unit) up three beaches on invasion day in Sicily, Italy and Normandy, yet was the nicest, mildest-mannered man you could know and apart from me auntie, nobody knew about it until the vicar read the eulogy at his funeral.
  8. Have you got any links for researching the Indian Army of the first world war? I know which regiment my grandfather served in and what theatres but I'd like to find out more.
  9. Thanks for all the advice. I've got a bit of homework to do on the RA and to see if I get any photos or letters before I'm going to get much further in either caes I guess. Does anyone know which Artillery Regiment was in the Citadel in Plymouth in 1938? And why would he have been sent to South Wales in the first couple of years of WWII. AD?
  10. The start point would probably be the British Library

    British Library

    who seem to hold a lot of records for India, although their suite is more for provision of guidance and you can't seem to search for individuals online.

    If you know your grandfather's regiment, you may be able to find reference to it in a suitable book or online. Trite I know, but have you tried Google? Post it here if you're having no luck and I'll have a hunt round to see if I can find anything.

    If it was a Gunner regiment, they will probably be mentioned in one of the books I listed in the ARRSEpedia. again, post the Regt here and I'll see if it's in the index.

    Lastly, if you know which battles he was in, there are many good books about WW1 that would tell you more of the battle and may also mention specific units.
  11. He was in the 16th Rajputs and served in Mesopotamia and Persia and possibly southern Russia in 1918/19. Any information would be useful but it's the Russia part I'm particularly interested in.
  12. there's a bit about the Rajput battalions here


    A very brief history here

    From the same site is a page, with links and bibliography about the war in Russia in 1919 again

    although the Russian campaign doesn't seem to have had any Indian Army troops involved.

    There are two further possibilities. It may have been the 3rd Afghan War and not Russia (16th Rajputs were there in 1919)

    3rd Afghan

    or possibly Persia, where some units of the Indian Army fought. detail is a bit lacking though .....

  13. Fluffy,

    Cheers. Good links and some interesting reading. He was definately in the Third Afghan War. He always said that he saw more active service in Afghanistan than during two years fighting the Turks. Further to the Russian connection, my dad was under the impression that the 16th Rajputs went to Baku in the summer of 1918. I know they were stationed in Persia at the time so it would have been possible.
  14. My great uncle was in the R.F.A(Royal Field Artillery?) I have a number of his medals and have downloaded his medal card which shows he deployed to France in jan 1915 and was demobbed in 1919.Any idea's how i could find out more about him?